The quarterback position at Georgia has been interesting this season. That’s putting it mildly. We all thought JT Daniels would lead Georgia to victories over Arkansas, Auburn and Kentucky, but things haven’t gone according to plan. The Dawgs enter this week’s practice for Florida with questions still looming about the QB spot. But in Kirby Smart’s case, that isn’t all that bad.
We look at the play of QB Stetson Bennett and marvel at his ability to open up the offense, especially down the field. We expected those things out of JT Daniels, who’s still fighting his way back from an injury, but to watch Bennett lead this team through this stretch of games has been fascinating. He has thrown for 996 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. For a guy who most thought would be a backup this season, Bennett has thrust himself into the spotlight and garnered the trust of his teammates.
But now, Kirby Smart has a decision to make, especially as both quarterbacks deal with a few injuries. Does he bring JT Daniels back into the fold or ride with the guy who has gotten him to this point? It could come down to who is healthy enough to play, as Kirby Smart explained on Monday.
“It’s going to be based on practice. No decision has been made, whatsoever. He (JT Daniels) did practice Wednesday and did pretty good, and he practiced Thursday and did well, in terms of not having pain before, during, or after. That’s what we’re looking for.
“I think it all depends on where JT (Daniels) is and where Stetson (Bennett) is, and who gives us the best chance to win,” Kirby added. “Stetson has done a good job since he’s been playing and JT has done a good job when he’s played. The good thing is we feel like we have really three-four good quarterbacks who are ready to play.”
The fact is, Kirby Smart has been walking this line about JT Daniels for over a month now, and Bennett has blossomed in the meantime. We know this Georgia football team lives off the defense and rushing attack, plain and simple, and I don’t expect that to change this week. The Gators can’t run the football, and Kirby knows he can bring the pressure on whoever Dan Mullen decides to start at quarterback. But the questions still come about whether JT Daniels returns this week. If he does, will we see multiple quarterbacks? That’s not something Kirby Smart is willing to answer, and he uses “coach speak” to deflect.
“Again, it’s going to depend on how they practice and what they do. Is it likely that we’ll see both of them? I don’t know that. I haven’t seen practice today. I’d like to see practice today, to know a little better about where he’s at. Based on Wednesday and Thursday, he was able to throw without pain. That’s step one. The next step is, can I move? Can I throw with accuracy? Can I do all the things that are required to play quarterback? I don’t know if he can do those things yet. We will see be how we practice this week.”
I think it’s pretty obvious that Kirby Smart has confidence in Stetson Bennett, but he would also love to see JT Daniels slinging it around against Florida. He’s got himself a situation, and it’s a damn good one. Having two guys who can lead this offense is a good card to have.
As we get closer to kickoff in Jacksonville and both teams continue to install their game plan, I like the quarterback situation in Athens more than I do the one in Gainesville.
So as both teams keep their state secrets close and each coach discusses his quarterback situation, there’s one thing that I think is certain:
Kirby Smart has two good cards, and he’s waiting until Jacksonville to throw them on the table.